A Ramsey County judge on Monday convicted Rory Koch, a former Republican legislative staffer and candidate for Ramsey County commissioner, of 12 felony counts of possessing child pornography.
Koch, 40, of St. Paul, and his attorney, Timothy Webb, continue to maintain his innocence. The attorney said they will challenge the conviction — and Minnesota’s child-pornography law — before the Minnesota Court of Appeals.
Koch had waived his right to a jury trial and let Ramsey County District Judge Edward Wilson decide the case.
The legal issue centers on whether, under Minnesota law, it’s a crime to simply “view” child porn, which places it in the temporary cache of a computer, even if it is not downloaded or sent. Koch maintains that viewing does not constitute possession, which is the act that is illegal.
He was an administrator for the state House Republican Caucus when he was charged last March with possessing child pornography. He has since lost his job. He had also run unsuccessfully for a seat on the Ramsey County Board while he was being investigated; the charges were not public knowledge at the time of his candidacy.
Since late January, the state had been considering filing additional counts against Koch after his attorney contended the images were in the temporary “cache,” where viewing them caused the images to be automatically stored.
The state said there were images stored in various places in his computer — not just the cache, but none of the current charges reflected that.
On Dec. 3, Wilson had denied Koch’s motion to dismiss the charges, based on circumstantial evidence that Koch searched for and viewed child pornography. Koch later asked the judge to reconsider his ruling on the issue of whether simply viewing an image constituted possessing the image.
Wilson on Monday found sufficient evidence to convict Koch.
Last week, Koch had entered a Lothenbach plea in which he maintained his innocence and said he will appeal over the pretrial legal issues.
Joy Powell • 651-925-5038